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P3: Cognition

Human – Technology – Interaction

Speaker

Prof. Alexander Bergs
(Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)

Cognition and the methodological spectrum used in cognitive science are increasingly important to modern, public societies both as an object of scientific research and as a building block in high-tech applications. The possibility of artificially intelligent machines raises fundamental questions about the conception of ourselves as humans, but cognitive technologies also enable technological innovation that unlock economic as well as societal possibilities and chances. One can only speculate what the true impact of the current paradigm shift will mean to humanity.

The institute of cognitive science, jointly with the institute of computer science, the institute of psychology, the business informatics department, the biology department, as well as the institute for English and American studies and virtUOS, is uniquely suited to study and research Cognition. Both in basic research and applied research & development for significantly important business use cases, the group can do so sustainably, on a nationally and internationally visible level.
Key research questions are assigned to three thematically focused, interdisciplinary clusters within the group, “Linguistics”, “Psychology”, and “Computer Science”. The first key task is to develop a research agenda in each cluster and apply for research funding as a team.

Linguistics

The key issue of the “Linguistics” cluster is the interface between language and cognition and will be researched from the perspective of empirically informed and cognitively oriented linguistics. One fundamental question is, how linguistics capabilities compare to other cognitive abilities. Therefore, experiments and investigations targeting concrete linguistics as well as cognitive phenomena will be carried out using a broad variety of methodologies. A central guide of this research cluster is to quantify the usefulness of language for other cognitive functions such as memory, learning, cognitive control and flexibility, as well as abstraction an analogue reasoning..

Psychology

Starting from the overarching question “How does the brain work?”, the “Psychology” research cluster has narrowed the research topic to psychological and biological aspects of explicit and implicit memory under environmental and habitual constraints. Under the thematic guidance of the topic, different species, such as mice and human, will be investigated. As a result of the methodological expertise of the involved investigators, experiments will cover a particularly broad range of methods ranging from molecular biology and changes to hormonal balance to electrophysiological and behavioural experiments. This means that research findings may range from the subcellular all the way up to the behavioural level. By subscribing to a translational perspective, the cluster focuses on basic science with particular relevance to selected disorders: anxiety disorders and depression, cognitive-neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and endocrinological disorders such as diabetes or obesity.

Computer Science

Starting from the overarching question “How does the brain work?”, the “Psychology” research cluster has narrowed the research topic to psychological and biological aspects of explicit and implicit memory under environmental and habitual constraints. Under the thematic guidance of the topic, different species, such as mice and human, will be investigated. As a result of the methodological expertise of the involved investigators, experiments will cover a particularly broad range of methods ranging from molecular biology and changes to hormonal balance to electrophysiological and behavioural experiments. This means that research findings may range from the subcellular all the way up to the behavioural level. By subscribing to a translational perspective, the cluster focuses on basic science with particular relevance to selected disorders: anxiety disorders and depression, cognitive-neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and endocrinological disorders such as diabetes or obesity.

The scientific excellence and international network of the profile line “Cognition” within science, society, and industry is documented by key performance indicators. Since its inception in 2016, participating scientists have, among others, won two DFG Research Training Group (RTG) Grants “Situated Cognition” and “Computational Cognition” as well as the BMBF funded joint project “SIDDATA”, in total exceeding 6,5 Mio. Euro in third party funding. The RTG “Computational Cognition” has also been invited to participate in the DFG project MS-Wissenschaft – a science exhibition on a boat traveling German and Austrian waterways – in 2019. Further, due to a joint effort by the Institute of Cognitive Science, Fachbereich 8 as well as the university leadership and the MWK, Prof. Dr. Simone Pika has joined the university as a full professor. She has won an ERC Consolidator Grant and complements the profil line with her excellent research on the evolutionary development of communication. In addition, members of the profile line are involved in a number of additional individual and collaborative grants. Particularly relevant are joint projects with industry on the application of artificial intelligence in, for example, agrarian robotics and e-learning environments.